Judge Renders Serious Blow to NFL Owners

The pendulum swung the other way for the first time in the CBA negotiations on Tuesday when when Minnesota judge David Doty ruled that the owners violated the current NFL CBA by negotiating for TV revenues to still be paid even despite an NFL lock-out. Doty has ruled a follow-up hearing to determine whether the players should receive financial damages or an injunction preventing payment to the owners.

Long story short, this is a huge win for the NFLPA. The NFL owners had previously held the ground that it was the player who were not bargaining in good faith. They had file a labor complaint and gone to the media to publicly slander the players while continuing to sit on nearly four and a half billion dollars in guaranteed TV revenues. What Doty basically ruled was that the NFL had no intention of bargaining fairly or in good faith as the owners had already more than secured their portion of next season’s revenues and they stood with little to lose in the event of a lock-out.

And while this will do nothing to soften the league’s insistence that the next labor deal should be Doty-free, we think Doty made the right ruling.  Once the league agreed to pay the players 59.6 cents of every dollar made (after $1 billion comes off the top), the league assumed a duty to maximize revenues.

At a minimum, the league assumed a duty not to trade the ability to generate more revenue for a contractual term that benefits the owners — and that hurts the players.

Obviously this will be appealed and the NFL will bring out the best lawyers money can buy, but philosophically he does make a good point, and the players will benefit from this interim. I still don’t think it’s going to get a new CBA done in time though. We’ve got a video explanation from ESPN and Chris Mortensen after the jump…

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